When Tanya Hembree purchased 234 Public Square in downtown Franklin for $4.2 million, she described it as being the result of “pure miracles.”
The original Fire Hall building is where her full-service interior design firm, home market and coffee lounge Onyx + Alabaster has been located – for one year as of Thursday.
Frequented by local celebrities, influencers, design enthusiasts and visitors from Los Angeles and New York, it’s fitting for Hembree to refer to Onyx + Alabaster as “one of the hottest hangs in Franklin.”
Still, the spot is just as inclusive as it is popular in terms of who frequents it, according to Hembree.
“It’s been all brackets of genre, not just one specific type of person,” she said.
But the journey to claim its title as one of the area’s go-to destinations was a long one that turned out to be worthwhile in the end.
Hembree and her husband uprooted their family of five and moved to Franklin 11 years ago.
Initially, Hembree worked at Ramsey Solutions. But her passion for design, which she had recognized previously, reintroduced itself into her life.
“Before too long,” she said, “I was doing design on the side without realizing I was actually doing design full-time.”
Tanya Hembree Design was born as an LLC, and a team was onboarded once business began to take off.
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After the success of her design services business, Hembree started to think about opening a home market.
However, there was one condition. “If I wanted to have a walkable and shoppable market, I didn’t want it to have my name,” Hembree said.
Thus, the name Onyx + Alabaster was adopted.
234 Public Square
“I knew in my spirit that we were supposed to be in that space because it was our brand. It was our colors,” Hembree, founder, principal and senior designer, said about her reaction to seeing Onyx + Alabaster’s shop on the Square for the first time.
Renovating Franklin’s historical Fire Hall began in the fall of 2020. By March 2021, Onyx + Alabaster began to move into the 4,620-square-foot space, and doors were finally opened on May 26 that year.
“It was a lot of work redesigning a historic building,” Hembree said.
The Main Street move was a giant leap from Onyx + Alabaster’s former brick and mortar locations, including one on Second Avenue where the rent was approximately five times less than 234 Public Square before it was bought.
Ironically, on Friday the 13th in May, luck found Hembree when she closed on 234 Public Square. It was sold for $4.2 million by Creed Investments.
What’s next for Onyx + Alabaster?
The Onyx + Alabaster design studio, market and coffee lounge provide experiences for guests unlike any other in surrounding area.
“We don’t offer Wi-Fi,” Hembree said. “We value connection over screens.”
Building a community is important to the Onyx + Alabaster family, particularly Hembree.
“It’s getting a chance to impact the lives of people who are building homes – not only physically,” Hembree said. “It’s helping to be a part of someone’s story and the relationship aspect of that. I love creating experiences with people.”
The Onyx + Alabaster team has been hard at work planning the upcoming anniversary celebration Friday and Saturday, which will take place on the Square.
Hembree said those she works with help her solidify her vision of Onyx + Alabaster and help her bring that vision to life.
“I love leading a team, and I have the best team,” she said. “I really couldn’t do what I’m doing without the people I surround myself with.”
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Information on Onyx + Alabaster’s anniversary celebration
Friday, May 27
3 p.m.: Charcuterie board kick-off
3-6 p.m.: Meet the design team
5-7 p.m.: Art crawl artists and wine
5-7 p.m.: Live music
Saturday, May 28
9-11 a.m.: Coffee with Tanya Hembree and Black/White Sofa Podcast guests
11 a.m.: Charcuterie boards sStart
11 a.m.-1 p.m.: Art crawl artist and mimosas
1-3 p.m.: Live music
5-7 p.m.: Live music